Staying on your fitness plan and dining out is possible, even if it is at The Cheesecake Factory!
I hear all too often that one thing people miss is the ability to go out to eat when on a regimented nutritional plan. If you don’t know how to order or don’t go into a restaurant prepared it sure can be risky however, if you follow a few tips, it is possible! Part of making healthy eating a lifestyle is the ability to be able to do the things you enjoy, such as going out to eat, and still staying on track with your goals. As long as you are well prepared, there is nothing to worry about! Taking the time to pick your restaurant wisely or scope out the restaurants nutritional information ahead of time is definitely the best way to know what you’re getting into and how to make the healthiest choices.
A common restaurant many of us love is The Cheesecake Factory! As much as it definitely sounds like a forbidden zone, it actually can be a very healthy option, believe it or not!? The Cheesecake Factory is known for its large entrees, gourmet burgers and variety of decadent cheesecakes so it is easy to think this restaurant is off limits, but it doesn’t have to be! I personally love this restaurant because the menu is so large that there is something for everyone! You can go with a wide range of people, who all have different food preferences, and everyone can find something they want! Not to mention, with their new Skinnylicious menu, it is really easy to find a healthy meal that is accommodating to our healthy lifestyle! I want to share with you two of my favorite dishes that with the right modifications are completely guilt free, coming in around only 400 calories/meal. I promise that both of these meals will leave you feeling full and satisfied yet still completely on track with your goals!!
#1. Skinnylicious Fresh Grilled Salmon. This meal is about 570 calories as is but if you ask to sub out the mashed potatoes for extra veggies (no butter please), you can easily drop the calories and fat significantly to to drop this meal about 150-200 calories making it about a 400 calorie meal option!!
#2. Skinnylicious Tuscan Chicken (my favorite!!) This meal is about 585 calories as is but if you ask to sub out Farro for extra veggies, no butter please, and light balsamic vinaigrette you can drop the calories by 150-200, making this about a 400 calorie meal option!! *G-Tip, note this dish does come sprinkled with cheese, even though it isn’t listed on the menu, so be sure to ask for no cheese please.
tuscan chicken
No matter where you are eating out, there are always ways to tweak the menu and make choices that are right inline with your goals! For more dining out tips, check out my top 9 tips below.
Gina’s Top 9 Healthy Dining out Tips:
1. Scope out the menu before you go. The best thing you can do is check out the restaurants website before you go. It is smart to know what your options are and have a game plan before you get there. If you know what you are going to order or how you are going to modify a dish, it makes it easy when you arrive. You don’t even have to revisit the menu and be tempted by all the delicious dishes. If you know what you will be having it saves you having to fight back your temptations and risking ordering something you may regret. Most restaurants list their menu online so be sure to check it out ahead of time and have your order prepared ahead of time!
2. Eat before you go. It sounds silly but having a protein shake or small snack before you go will help you stay on track. There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant hungry. Between all the tempting dishes and delicious smells, if you are hungry, everything sounds good and you can easily convince yourself to order off your plan. Not to mention, by the time you get to the restaurant, order and get your food, most likely a few hours has passed so eat right before you go so you are staying on track with your eating every 2-3 hour routine.
3. Ditch the bread or chip basket! The bottomless bread and chips is the easiest way to sabotage your results. It depends on who you are going out to eat with but if at all possible, tell them to hold off on even bringing the free bread or chips. If you are going with a group, it may take some serious self control however but you can do it! More reason to eat before you go so you aren’t easily tempted by the smell of freshly baked bread!!
4. Ask for dressing on the side. A salad seems like a healthy guilt free option right?! It can be, absolutely, but it can also have more calories and fat than a burger. When ordering a salad, it is best to hold off on any cheese and ask for the dressing to be placed on the side. You can either use the dressing offered with that salad, in moderation, OR better yet, ask for oil and vinegar on the side so you can monitor the amount of oil you use.
5. No butter please!! When ordering your meal, it is always best to say “no butter please”. You would be surprised how much added butter is used when dinging out. Everything from veggies to lean proteins can be smothered with butter so be sure to mention, “no butter please”.
6. Swap out carbs for extra veggies. Often times the carbohydrates come with added oils and butter so it is best to sub out any carbohydrates with extra veggies and remember to mention, “no butter please”!
7. Baked, Broiled or grilled over Fried. When looking for the best menu options, you want to avoid dishes that are fried and opt for your baked, broiled or grilled options. Anything that mentions a cream sauce or “breaded” in the title is also something you should stay away from, as the sauces and breading can add a ton of extra calories, carbs and unnecessary fats!
8. Go Clear or Red. If you are enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail, ditch the sugary cocktails and go for a clear liquor with soda water and a lime or better yet, enjoy a glass of antioxidant rich red wine. Moderation is key and remembering to avoid those sugary cocktails is key! Say good bye to those Lemon Drop Martini’s or Margaritas.
9. Drink your water. It is important to drink plenty of water, especially when dining out. Restaurants tend to use tons more sodium than you are use to. Ever wonder why you wake up bloated and puffy the next day, this could be why! You want to be sure to hydrate and flush your system of any extra sodium so you wake up feeling refreshed and back to normal after a meal out!
I hope you find these tips helpful the next time you want to enjoy a healthy meal out and about! It is possible to still eat out and be social while reaching or maintaining your fitness goals! If The Cheesecake Factory is close by, be sure to check out my few favorites and let me know what you think! I promise you will leave with a whole other meaning of “The Cheesecake Factory”! 🙂